Jamie Kreiner

Distinguished Research Professor 2024

Photograph of Jamie Kreiner

Jamie Kreiner, professor in the Department of History, is a historian of Europe and the Mediterranean world in the early Middle Ages (400 to 800 CE). Her prizewinning research asks how and why cultures changed in societies that remade themselves as the Roman Empire fractured. She questions how ideas and norms—about good government, wealth, or nature, for example—were intertwined with different forms of power and influence, and attempts to discover how early medieval communities themselves wrestled with those dynamics. These questions have guided her research from political elites to pigs to the medieval clergy. Most recently, her book, “The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction” (Liveright, 2023), tracks early Christian monks’ frustrations with distraction and their inventive and sometimes contentious efforts to make themselves concentrate — and it shows how their moralization of the problem foreshadowed our own age of distraction.